Guide to Implementing the Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit

General Toolkit Guidance

General advice about ways practices can make the most of the Toolkit is summarized below:

  • The Health Literacy Team should take the time to become appropriately familiar with the Toolkit's materials and its resources in order to derive full benefit from its use. If the team is not sufficiently familiar with the Toolkit, tool implementation may be slow or ineffective.
  • Make sure there is a champion for health literacy improvement in the practice. Invite a Health Literacy Team member to be the expert on the Toolkit's contents/resources. Before searching for a resource externally, look to see if it already exists in the Toolkit.
  • Start with Tools 1, 2, and 3. These tools will help you organize your team (Tool 1), create a health literacy improvement plan for your practice (Tool 2), and raise staff awareness of health literacy (Tool 3). These are key steps to complete before starting work on other tools.
  • Use the Toolkit flexibly and creatively based on your practice's needs and capacities. You don't have to implement every action item suggested for a given tool and you can develop new ways to take action that makes sense for your practice.
  • Don't try to do too much too quickly. Practices that try to implement too many changes at once risk doing none of them well. Don't lose sight of the fact that your long-term goal is to redesign your systems to improve patient care, which takes longer than making incremental changes.
  • Don't forget to use the "Track Your Progress" section of each tool. This section suggests ways to assess how well you are doing at making changes. This step is critical to help you implement successful health literacy changes in your practice.
  • Linking implementation activities for two or more tools can foster efficiencies and bring about added clarity and connectedness for your practice staff. For example, one practice focused on improving communication between front desk staff and patients. In doing so, they placed the Key Communication Strategies Poster (Tool 4) in the line of sight of front desk staff while also implementing other ways front desk staff can create a welcoming environment (Tool 13).
  • Choose health literacy tools that can build on or complement other QI and/or practice transformation efforts, such as Patient-Centered Medical Home certification. Linking these efforts together can help staff to see health literacy work as a logical extension to existing efforts instead of an added burden.
  • Track and report progress regularly. Ways to do this include regular check-in calls with a practice facilitator, participation in a learning collaborative, or direct reporting to a practice improvement committee. These activities can help build and support accountability for this work.

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Page last reviewed January 2015
Page originally created January 2015
Internet Citation: General Toolkit Guidance. Content last reviewed January 2015. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.